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      Communities exploring option to welcome food truck businesses

      Food trucks are gaining popularity around northern Michigan and those who are in the business are looking for new towns to set up shop.

      But before they do that, many of the city governments want to regulate the business.

      Throughout the winter, Happy's Taco Shop, has been a big hit at Boyne Mountain Ski Resort. Drake Nagel and Drue Wright have been feeding the hungry snowboarders and skiers, gourmet tacos, burritos, and nachos.

      "It's something new with something unique that's growing in this area," Wright said.

      These two entrepreneurs are looking to expand their business to Boyne City. This food truck along with five others have approached the city about setting up shop on the streets.

      "Part of what we are doing is trying to get research from other communities that have food trucks, so we can actually see what the impact has been on those communities," Annie Doyle, Boyne City Assistant Planner said.

      Boyne City took immediate interest in the idea and has been looking at how other communities, like traverse city, have regulated the business.

      Harbor Springs has taken similar steps. They invited food trucks into their community on two separate occassions this winter to gauge public interest.

      "Food trucks actually bring people downtown as opposed to just taking away from existing restaurants," Tom Richards, Harbor Springs City Manager said. "They become an attraction and increase the number of people in your downtown."

      One of the common concerns about food trucks is the threat to existing businesses. But many restaurant owners say they wouldn't mind the trucks if regulations are put into place.

      "I think it could be an asset to the community," Don Ryde, Cafà Sante General Manager said. "As long as they're not parked out in front of another food establishment or something."

      The owners of Happy's Taco Shop hope a decision is made before the summer, so they can benefit from the busy tourism season.

      "We're just trying to bring something new, bring some fun food to northern Michigan," Nagel said.